After 2023 was marked by great attendance to its events, the organizing team behind the Gaming and Technology Expo (GAT) announced that in 2024 it will aim to be “the axis of the Latin American gaming boom”.
In an exclusive dialogue with Yogonet, José Aníbal Aguirre, CEO of the Gaming & Technology Expo (GAT), reviewed the events held this year and gave details of the novelties to come in 2024, highlighting that it will mark “a before and after” in GAT events, since, for the first time, they will conclude their annual calendar in Mexico.
How would you assess the year 2023 for GAT Expo?
The year that is ending has been of great importance for the Gaming & Technology Expo and its GAT events in Cartagena de Indias, Punta Cana, and Bogota. It has also been the positive impact shared by our exhibitors and sponsors who obtained in these spaces, real sales and acquisitions of machines and extraordinary online games to optimize their portfolios, as well as valuable commercial alliances.
Thus, 2023 has encouraged us to make decisions to expand our brand with a strengthened human team in order to achieve the goals proposed for the years to come.
I would like to highlight in the balance the visits and international promotion of the TAG events that we carried out in person at ICE London last February, in Barcelona and Malta, as well as in Lisbon, Portugal, at the recent CIBELAE Congress. We also attended a special invitation to the AIEJA (Association of Permit Holders, Operators and Suppliers of the Entertainment and Gambling Industry in Mexico) assembly, at the beginning of this month in Mexico City, as members of that organization.
What news or event in the gaming industry do you think was the most important of the year that is ending and why?
All the international fairs were successful this year, but the announcement of the change of venue of ICE London to Barcelona for 2025 marks an unprecedented turn for the organizer and the participants, since the concepts, contents, and approach will have a strong Ibero-American and Latin American cultural accent, much closer to us. The effects of this news have generated unexpected movements in the map of the locations of the world’s gaming showcases.
What are your expectations and goals for 2024?
I love that question. Next year will mark a before and after in GAT events, since, for the first time, we will close our annual calendar in Mexico, considering the magnitude of the market and the opportunities that the nation offers to the gaming industry and the apogee of online betting throughout the territory.
We will enter GAT Caribe Cancun with the support of AIEJA as confirmed to us personally by its president, announcing last December 6 in CDMX, before all its associates, that the AIEJA assembly in November 2024, will be held at the Cancun Center within the framework of GAT Caribe Cancun. As news travels fast and no one wants to miss this important event, I can inform you that we already have exhibitors and sponsors who have taken the lead by reserving ample space for their booths, as well as sponsorships in different modalities. I highlight the commitment of Pragmatic Play as a Premium Sponsor of all our events.
Incorporating GAT Caribe Cancun into our portfolio, we found the ideal way to celebrate our 25th anniversary, growing and consolidating our position as the most recognized Latin American company in the organization of events, with a consolidated land-based fair in Cartagena de Indias and an online fair of vast commercial scope and future in Mexico.
The incursions in international fairs in 2023, have opened new perspectives and business vision, confirming the importance of the Gaming & Technology Expo and its events, as a true representation of Latin American markets, beyond Brazil. I am talking about the fact that we must overcome the narrative that identifies Latin America mainly in Europe with Brazil, minimizing the enormous potential offered by Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean countries, Panama, all of Central America, and Colombia as a gateway to the southern cone, Peru, Paraguay, the special jurisdictions of Guyana, Suriname, Argentina, and Chile, among others.
Can you anticipate what novelties or changes there will be in next year’s TAG events, compared to those of 2023?
In Cartagena, on April 9, we will have an academic conference to which we are inviting regulators from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, as we think it is very important to communicate to the audience the current situation in each jurisdiction in relation to regulatory advances and changes in laws that must adapt to the speed of technological development in the industry. Logically, we will touch on the topic of artificial intelligence and we will share with the audience the offer and news that some companies will present in corporate conferences. Once again, we will be accompanied by Colombia’s most important associations: Fecoljuegos, Asojuegos, Cornazar, and Fedelco, as well as Coljuegos, the country’s regulator.
I highlight the specialized pavilion that will have electronic sports because we consider that this line of business occupies today a leading role and great influence in the young segments of the population that are grouped in huge communities moving an economic sector that emerges with great force. GAT eSports will have its conference niche on April 10 at the same convention center, we are calling multinational marketing directors and companies interested in joining their brands as a strategy to attract a youth segment to the esports vertical.
Another novelty that will bring GAT in the coming year is the transfer of our event GAT Punta Cana to Santo Domingo and the change of dates of the event, originally planned for June and that we have moved to September taking into account the general elections of the Dominican Republic that will define a new government for the next four-year term, including mayors, deputies, senators and President of the Republic. The modification of the venue responds to the requests of local operators who have suggested this change since it is in the capital of the Dominican Republic where most of the casino, sports betting, and lottery operators are concentrated. This is what we have been told by Dominican guilds and companies that have been supporting us during the three previous editions held in Punta Cana. The new dates are September 18 and 19.
We will have an academy with regulatory issues and control of illegal gambling, with the participation of CIBELAE, managers of Ibero-American lotteries, and experts who will address the issues of updating and trends in the gaming industry in Latin America. Of course, there will be exhibition stands at the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino, the chosen location for the debut of GAT Showcase Santo Domingo, and our usual networking events.
But, as I said before, the big news in 2024 is our arrival in Cancun, Mexico, on November 27 and 28. In that country, online gambling has reached an extraordinary boom and the number of gamblers is growing like crazy, considering the enormous dimension of the Mexican market. We are confident that we will succeed in creating and developing the most important online gambling fair in Latin America in that location.
Something I would like to tell you, and you are all invited, is that we will celebrate in style in Cartagena the 25 years of this journey with the gaming industry: on April 9, once the academic day is over, in the main square of the Las Americas Convention Center, we will offer the Colombian party GAT 25 years, with typical Cartagena food, Caribbean cocktails, dances and autochthonous musical groups, because 25 years of the Colombian fair is not celebrated every day. Likewise, attendees will be able to opt for other complementary events on April 10 and 12.
I am very pleased to announce, four months before the event, that the confirmed exhibitors are: Win Systems, EGT, R Franco Digital, BYA Group, Novomatic, Mobadoo, Zitro, WATechnology, Amusnet Interactive, Golden Race, Pragmatic Play, Better Collective, Kushki, Betconstruct, Vibra Gaming America Simulcast, DSVirtual Gaming, RPCol, Spintec, Interblock, Evolution and Blokotech. The options of sponsors in different categories have also been very well received and so, in addition to Pragmatic Play, our Premium Sponsor, Platinum sponsorships have been taken, and other Altenar, BetConstruct, Novomatic, and Evolution.